Dragon-like figures feature prominently in folklore from around the world. They often hold---or once held---special significance to their respective cultures. Chinese dragons historically symbolized good luck and imperial power, and were used in iconography surrounding the emperor. The founder of the Han dynasty went so far as to claim that his mother dreamt of a… Continue reading Dragons and Sin in Medieval Germanic Literature
Anyone who's studied the English canon has likely been exposed to the famous daffodils in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud." William Wordsworth was undoubtedly passionate about the natural world in general--it featured prominently in his poetry, and, together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, he was grouped rather disparagingly as one of the… Continue reading Death of the Author: An Analysis of Wordsworth
It's a song commonly played to ring in the New Year, bidding farewell to the old. Across the English-speaking world, it's used for graduations, for funerals, for any major transitional period in one's life. As a result, pretty much everyone is familiar with the tune. But growing up, I never knew anyone who was actually… Continue reading Dialects in Literature: A Look at Robert Burns
Today, Iceland is a massively literate country, the most literate in the world, and authors and writers are celebrities. Almost everyone in Iceland is a writer, and many Icelanders will publish a book at some point in their lives. It’s something in the blood, I think, as well as something in the culture, and in the spring water.
Epic poems have incredible staying power both as literary achievements and as historical resources. The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is one of the foremost examples of this. Despite its mythological themes, the story offers historians a rare insight into Anglo-Saxon ideals of masculinity, heroism, and society. At the same time, it presents literary scholars with a… Continue reading History through Poems: Examining Beowulf
In a world of emerging paper currency and capitalism, it comes as little surprise that contemporary entertainment so often focused on economic problems. A surprisingly common theme in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century works was the economics of the human body. Often, this issue was addressed in literature and performances through female prostitution, but some texts present… Continue reading The Common Soldier: An Archetype in 17th- and 18th-Century Theatre
Oscar Wilde has always been known as an eccentric sort of thinker. His contributions to literary theory and criticism fit the bill—he made it his purpose to defy convention and question society. Anyone who has read The Picture of Dorian Gray likely has some idea of Wilde's philosophy on Art and Beauty. The long monologues… Continue reading Putting Wilde into Conversation with His Work
A quick walk-through of the character's history and significance in medieval Germanic literature